Microsoft's take on premium laptops is turning out to be a hell of an exciting beast, for reviewers at least.
What I mean by that is unless you're a designer, architect or someone with a need for juicing out hardware crunching performance from a compact laptop the Surface Book 2 is well above your needs.
It's mighty powerful, uber sleek and smartly hybrid. That's what flocking Stuff HQ reviewers towards this machine and here's what we concluded from a brief hands-on session.
Build and screen: Dock-ter
Right from the start the Microsoft Surface Book 2 screams premium with its angular design and magnesium body wrappings. Like the previous model which never came to India, the Book 2 is also a two part affair - screen and keyboard. It's united by a fine docking mechanism which works on the push of a button. Push it and you'll be prompted when it's safe to remove the screen. It all works in less than two seconds.
The screen holds up mighty well to its cost on paper and during our brief encounter with the Surface Book 2 we didn't notice anything alarming. The viewing angles were bang on and the colour reproduction on the 15in PixelSense display is so good that you won’t even notice that it’s missing HDR. The 15in packs 4K resolution while the 13in has 3000 x 2000 to ward off any naysayers. Chunking 260 pixels per inch on the 15in and 267 on the 13in is more than enough to please our eyes and for something that will spend half of its life as a tablet it's absolutely fantastic.
Still, we'll reserve our judgements for when we have a thorough insight of the display's abilities. For now though we're glad that the touch sensitive screen works with the Surface Dial and the Surface Pen. While that's not at all surprising, the fun actually lies in how you use it. Feeling too bulky? Shed that keyboard luggage. Working on a graphic intensive file? Dock the tablet in Studio mode and squeeze every last pixel from the Nvidia GPU hiding away in the keyboard dock. It's all very convenient once you know what it is that you need a Surface Book 2 for.
Features: you won’t even notice
One of the key features that sets it apart is its keyboard. It's key to the whole experience of using a laptop. It's key... okay I'll stop with these weird trying-so-hard puns. Point being, something as personal as a keyboard can shift a buying decision and we're happy to report that this laptop has one of the finest keyboards I've ever tapped on. The resistive feedback from the keys is just right and the travel is quite satisfactory too. It's tactile and the slight concave on the keys ensure that you hit the right button when drafting a compendium of every pothole in Mumbai. We wish the palm rest area got the Alcantara pampering like the Surface Laptop but that wouldn’t bode well with its heat management in my opinion.
And this one is made to perform. The fan vents near the hinge area are purposefully located to dissipate any warmth away from the typing zone. Like its predecessor the gap near the hinge stays because according to Microsoft it's to allow the heat outwards even if you close the laptop after a quick gaming session. The 15in model has fans in both the tablet and the dock while the 13in model is a fanless tablet but the dock naturally needs a fan to cool off the GPU.
Sure, the screen and all that docking gizmo is plenty to talk about but the nuances about this machine are what make it so fine and in my opinion, a worthy premium product.
Performance and specs: Beauty in the beast
The Surface Book 2 starts from ₹1,37,999 and skyrockets to an eye watering ₹2,95,999. Only the first variant of the 13in packs an i5 7th Gen processor while the other six variants between the 13in and 15in come lock and loaded with Intel i7-8650U 8th Gen processor with 4.2GHz at Max Turbo. For perspective, that clock speed is more than some gaming desktops.
With upto 16GB RAM and 1TB of SSD storage you ain’t short of space or speed to slam editing softwares in the face. Wed that with the stunning PixelSense display and we now know why Mac addicts are jumping ship. The dock even houses an Nvidia GTX 1060 with 6GB of VRAM for taking on demanding gaming titles or in a non-Stuff use case, a graphically intensive software like Maya or CAD. We did play Forza Horizon 3 with an Xbox controller and the frame rate was about 40 on high settings in Full HD resolution. We ain’t totally convinced by these numbers because it's not under our review preferences and environment so be sure to check the full review for a walloping benchmark of this baby. Lastly, the 15in has an Xbox Wireless chip built in because why not.
Microsoft claims that in tablet mode it gives about 5 hours of battery life and combined with the dock it runs upto 17 hours. Bold claim certainly and we would very much like to challenge it.
So it’s a premium product yes but does it justify its grueling price tag? We are not sure. From a brief hands-on session I walked away smiling ear to ear but the price tag still concerns me.
Microsoft says that they’re offering a premium product with no holds barred and that it's value for money rather than pocket pleasing. That’s true from what we’ve seen so far and this hybrid is brimming with power and works in ways more than a traditional laptop. The hybrid design and the multiple variants spoil you for choice and once you bring in the Surface Pen and Surface Dial things get really, really interesting.
Obviously, it's not meant for you if you don’t need a 4.2GHz Turbo charged processor with a hybrid design and a GPU to sustain heavy software work. For those who need, wait no further than a full review.